If you’re someone who wants stand-out abs, sure, there’s some work you need to do in the kitchen. But, you’re also definitely going to want to make good use of metabolic training.
Metabolic training involves intense combinations of traditional strength-based exercises and high-rep programming that will give you a serious cardiovascular challenge. You do the exercises one after another with short rest periods in between, giving you an all-around intense workout that will shed fat, improve your cardio conditioning, and work every muscle in your body in the process.
The workouts below take those benefits one step further by adding more core exercises to add a little growth stimulus to the crucial muscles of the obliques and rectus abdominis. Sure, you engage the core in just about every standing exercise you do. But, in these metabolic workouts, you’ll be zeroing in on those moves that emphasize your visible ab muscles.
You get leaner abs through a combination of building up those muscles, and losing body fat so the definition you’re building shows through. These workouts will do both in 30 minutes or less, so there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to fit it into your busy day.
1. Killer Crunch Circuit
This circuit is a great option if you’re at the beginner to intermediate level, and will work both your strength and endurance at the same time. It’s also a great circuit to perform at home, since all you need is a set of dumbbells and an exercise ball.
Perform each exercise in order. Aim for 20 reps of each one before going on to the next. Once all the exercises are finished, rest for 1 minute, then repeat the circuit a second time through. Go for a third time if you’re up to it.
Killer Crunch Circuit
Circuit: Perform 1-3 rounds
15-20 reps, on flat bench or ground
15-20 reps, using medicine ball or exercise ball if no BOSU ball is available
2. One Side at a Time
Sometimes the best way to work the abs is to focus on balance. That might sound counterintuitive, but doing exercises that put your body off balance can dramatically increase overall core recruitment, which can lead to a stronger mid-section. The following workout uses this principle, using stabilization-focused movements that work all the main areas of your body, including your core.
Perform each exercise for the reps indicated. Once each exercise is done, rest for 30 seconds before moving on. Repeat the circuit four times through.
One Side at a Time
Circuit: Perform 4 rounds
15 reps, perform on left leg
15 reps, perform on right leg
3. Mountain Climber Madness
Mountain climbers are an excellent cardio exercise that will target your abs if you focus on using your core to help drive your feet in toward your body with each step. They’re also great for burning calories and for working your upper body, as well.
For this circuit, alternate between mountain climbers and bodyweight-based ab moves to really give your core a workout.
Mountain Climber Madness
Circuit: Perform 1 round
20 reps, using medicine ball or exercise ball if no BOSU ball is available
15 reps, on flat bench or ground
4. Legs On Fire
Another great way to work your core is to train your legs. Lower body training can be incredibly intense since it works so many large muscle groups at once to burn calories fast. Your core will be engaged in every single lower-body exercise you do while standing.
This lower-body metabolic circuit might be one of the hardest you’ll ever face, but rest assured, you’re earning results. Move through each triset, doing one exercise after the next. Once all three exercises are completed, rest for two minutes before repeating again two more times.
After each triset is done three times, move on to the next.
Legs On Fire
Triset 1: 3 sets, rest 2 min. between sets
Triset 2: 3 sets, rest 2 min. between sets
15 reps (alt: perform with feet on exercise ball)
15 reps (alt: hyperextension or ball hyperextension)
Triset 3: 3 sets, rest 2 min. between sets
5. Reps for Time
A final, brutal way you can structure your metabolic circuit is by attempting to reach a number of reps in a given time period. Your mission is to beat each rep level that you accomplished the workout before. By doing so, you help increase your fitness and up the intensity of the workout overall.
Perform each of these exercises for one minute. Count your reps and track them in a journal. This workout lasts only 10 minutes, but it should be a very intense 10 minutes. If you need to rest to maintain good form during each exercise, do so. As you become more advanced, you can try to perform two rounds instead of one.
Between sets, rest only as long as necessary to set up the next exercise.
Note that for any weighted exercise, you should be using a low amount of weight. Try using around 40-50 percent of the weight you usually use for your 5-rep sets.
Reps for Time